Nah’Shon Godfrey hauled in an interception along the back line of the end zone, which all but ended things Saturday afternoon at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium.
The party was just beginning, however.
Godfrey came off the turf blowing kisses toward the McDaniel College fans. When he got to the sideline, teammate Jarius Ransom timed a leaping hip bump to perfection and met Godfrey with celebration behind the Green Terror’s bench. Closer to the field, coach Demarcus White shook hands with a few of the game’s officials while his offense trotted out to the 20-yard line for the most anticipated formation in football.
McDaniel held off Misericordia 24-14 and gave White a win in his first game as Terror coach. It also marked the first win in a debut since Tim Keating led then-Western Maryland College past Juniata 16-14 on Sept. 11, 1993.
The Green Terror’s first home win since Sept. 23, 2017, was an all-around performance, White said. And the statistics showed as much.
McDaniel had two quarterbacks throw touchdown passes. It had four ball carriers finish with 163 net rushing yards, compared to the Cougars’ 77. The defense came up with three sacks and two interceptions. And players shined on special teams as well, with big kick returns and highlight worthy tackles.
“We really just wanted to get our first home win,” said Ransom, a senior linebacker who led McDaniel with 11 tackles. “Last season we really didn’t get one, and it really affected the program. Now that Coach White is our coach ... he kind of changed the culture. We’re just trying to stay on his path.”
Misericordia led 7-0 midway through the first quarter before McDaniel scored three unanswered touchdowns and built a 17-point lead with about 4 minutes to play. The Cougars cut the deficit to 10 points, and tried to get closer in the waning seconds before Godfrey snagged his INT.
The senior defensive back made eight tackles and sophomore Habeeb Baba added seven. Aris Mayfield, another senior DB, had the other pick for the Green Terror, and Westminster High School graduate Chris Hauffman, a sophomore, joined Ransom for a combined sack.
Ransom added another sack on Misericordia quarterback Brady Williams, the reigning Middle Atlantic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Williams passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough.
“Adversity happens ... you’ve just got to deal with it,” Ransom said about his team’s early deficit. “You can’t fold under one touchdown. One touchdown’s not going to seal the game.”
Tyler Palermiti started at quarterback for the Terror, and the sophomore threw for 130 yards and a score. White used Kevin Sheckells at QB as well, and the junior got involved with his arm and legs.
Sheckells tossed a 5-yard touchdown to Owen Reese that tied the score at 7-7 with 2 minutes to go in the first half. Sheckells, a left-hander, rolled to his left out of a read-option play and waited for Reese, listed as a tight end, to get a little space off the line before shuffling the ball to him with his right hand.
Palermiti connected with fullback Eisley Kim on a 10-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, and early in the fourth found wide receiver Cameron Garcia on a slant pass that went for a 26-yard score.
Reese joined Kim, a junior, and Garcia, a sophomore, in posting their first collegiate touchdowns.
Kim also contributed on special teams with a pair of jarring tackles that energized the Terror, while junior return man Aaron Pray III amassed 76 yards on three touches.
Perry Stefanelli made his return after missing most of 2017 and all of 2018 because of a knee injury. The graduate student led McDaniel with 58 rushing yards. Sheckells was next with 47 on seven carries (6.7 per carry).
“Overall, a great day,” White said. “That’s our sole job, is to play with high energy and great effort. I’m extremely proud of the guys.”
White said McDaniel has plenty to learn from Saturday’s win, and the Green Terror will take that into Week 2 when Centennial Conference play begins Sept. 14 on the road against Moravian. The rookie coach got through his debut, and now prepares for his first conference matchup.
“I think it’s a huge fulfillment for the program,” said White, glancing toward the Hill where many of the 3,000-plus spectators watched his team win. “Look at this unbelievable crowd. It’s great for school spirit, it’s great for our community. It’s just one game, and we have to enjoy it tonight. And then tomorrow we move forward.”